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Soup ‘em, Spice ‘em, Sprout ‘em! 3 Must-Try Lentil Dishes from Across India

aals are comfort food in virtually every Indian home. And each region in the country has its own favourite way of preparing them. Soup ‘em, spice ‘em or sprout ‘em – but get your daily dose of healthy protein with any of these 10 must-try lentil dishes.
Hear that sound? It’s the pressure cooker whistle going off in your own kitchen or in the next door flat. Whatever else there may be for dinner, some kind of daal is certain to make it to the table – be it sambhar or aamti or daal makhni or some new moong recipe your mom just learnt on Khana Khazana.
Daals have been on the Indian menu since pre-Harappa days, even before rice and roti made an appearance in the Indian thali. Old texts speak of simple recipes of daals being served to guests as part of celebratory meals — like at the wedding of Chadragupta Maurya with the Greek princess Helen in 303 BC.
You’ve probably tasted many varieties of daals – moong, urad, toor, masoor. But if you’ve only tasted them cooked one way, in the style of your local region, you’re missing out on some fantastic culinary experiences from the rest of India. Here are 10 different ways you can cook daal at home, or sample when dining in another state of the country. Go on, experiment!

 1. Aamti, Maharashtra

A little hot, a little sweet and a little tangy, Aamti is the essence of the daily menu in Maharashtrian homes.  Usually made with toor dal, it is seasoned with a special aamti powder (or goda masala), mustard seeds, jaggery and kokam.
Aamti can be made with other varieties of lentils as well and is known by different names like Katachi Aamti (made with chana daal), or Golyanchi Aamti (fried balls in daal) or Masoor Aamti (made with red lentil). Aamti is best served with fresh steamed rice and a dollop of ghee.

2. Sambhar, South India

Sambhar is said to have originated in the kitchen of the Thanjavur Marathas ruler Shahji during the 17th century, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shahji named it sambhar after Sambhaji, the second emperor of the Maratha empire, who was the guest of the day at a feast he held.

Other sources point to the origin of sambhar in Karnataka, where sambaru padartha in Kannada means mix of spices and condiments. There is also an alternate explanation that the origin of the name is from the old Tamil word, chaampu, meaning ground or paste, in the context of grinding coconut and spices to be dissolved in tamarind pulp.
Today, there are a variety of sambhars in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Each state, restaurant, home boasts of its secret sambhar powder recipe.

3. Daal Makhni, Punjab

Also known as ‘maa ki daal,’ this rich daal dish originated from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The primary ingredients in dal makhani are urad daal, rajma (kidney beans), butter and cream.
Daal makhani was a staple in united India before Partition. It was popularized in India following Partition, when many Punjabis migrated to the northern regions of India. The dish was also introduced to many consumers by entrepreneurial Punjabi migrants like Kundan Lal Gujaral who opened the Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj in Delhi. Now, of course, you can sample various delicious versions of the dish at any of the highway dhabas while travelling by road in Punjab or Haryana.
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